For years it has been thought that teaching a foreign language to preschool-age children would be useless. However, teacher training institute indicates that the best time for a child to learn another language is in the first three to four years of life.
When Children Are Young, Language Learning Is Natural Process
kids growing up in a well-rounded environment learns to speak at least 2,000 basic words by the time they are three to four years old. Simply watching how babies learn to talk proves that they are natural learners. During the first six months of life, babies jabber using 70 sounds that make up all the languages in the world. They will then learn to talk using only the sounds and words they pick up from their surroundings, most significantly from their parents and caregivers. A baby's brain will then remove the ability to speak in languages he or she does not hear.
Preschool Years Are Vital Years
"During this period and particularly the first three years of life, the basics for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes, and other characteristics are laid down," says early childhood care and education. As a result, it would be a waste not to use a child's natural skill to learn during his or her most vital years, when learning a second language is as easy as learning the first. Since 50 percent of the capability to learn is developed in the first years of life and another 30 percent by age eight, early childhood care development programs have the opportunity to support early learning and development. This does not mean, however, that 50 to 80 percent of one's intellect, wisdom, or knowledge is formed during early childhood.
Young Migrant Children Are the Models
unfortunately, most American schools teach foreign languages when students are in high school. According to nursery teacher training, foreign language teaching should begin when kids are in preschool—when teachers can make the most of a child's willingness and ability to learn. By the time a student reaches high school, the best possible learning period is lost. The success of foreign language training during the preschool years can be found by visiting emigrant nursery schools in Sweden. In these schools you will find three-year-olds speaking three different languages smoothly. In fact, Sweden has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Many people speak different languages, particularly at migrant camps where they learn languages rapidly. So how is that possible? They use sensory stimulation and play combined with language learning.
How Can You Teach a Second or Third Language to Young Children?
Infants can learn by listening, seeing, imitating, and practicing. So talk to them from the start. Tell them what you are doing. Introduce them to rhymes, songs, games, and counting in a second or third language. If you can't speak another language yourself, get plenty of tapes. Think about boarding a foreign student. Most significantly, make learning fun.
Here are tips for teaching the children in your care a second language.
1. Learn by doing. Play grocery store, make a snack, or take a walk. While you are communicating with the kids during these activities, speak a second or third language.
2. Emphasize with pictures and sounds. Say the sounds of the language that go with a picture in a playful way. For example, "A is for apple".
3. Learning should be fun. The more fun it is to learn a language, the more an infant will want to stay with it. Learning while playing is the best way to learn because it creates emotional attachments, and emotion is the door to learning.
4. Learn with music and rhythm. Music is one way to use the whole brain. Do you still memorize the songs you learned in early childhood? Most people do because lyrics combined with music are easier to learn.
5. Learn by talking to each other. Having students practice a language by talking to each other over a meal.
6. Link numbers and words in a playful way. The more you link, the more you learn. Anything can be associated when learning a second language, including numbers and new words.
7. Learn by touching. Do little finger rhymes in a second language. While you sing or say "Itsy, bitsy spider" have the fingers of each hand touch another finger, as if the spider is climbing.
8. Learn by tasting (Dryden & Rose, 1995).Have youngsters celebrate language learning by eating foods and saying the food name in the new language.
9. Learn by smelling. Play smelling games. Hide objects in a sack, and have the children guess what is inside. Persuade them to say the new word in the language they are learning.
10. Use the whole world as your classroom. Turn every outing into a learning experience. You can learn new words while counting oranges; comparing leaves; classifying different birds, food, or anything that interests the children.
To learn anything fast and effectively, you have to see it, hear it, and feel it .Children can learn almost anything if they are dancing, tasting, touching, seeing, and feeling information.